We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
South Bend, IN
Driving a little under seven hours northwest of Charleston takes you to South Bend, Indiana, known as “The Bend”. This picturesque town is home to the prestigious University of Notre Dame, impressive museums, a historic theatre, and a stunning downtown water feature. You’ll feel you’ve cruised into a much bigger city with the scale of offerings in The Bend.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN SOUTH BEND
The biggest name in South Bend is Studebaker, and a visit to the National Museum should be a top priority. This treasure-trove has three floors of cars, buggies, and other signature items, and an impressive Presidential collection with carriages that belonged to Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, and Harrison. Admission also includes a tour of the incredible 38-room Oliver Mansion.
Copshaholm is one of the finest historic homes in the Midwest–maybe even in the United States. A tour of Copshaholm House Museum includes visiting all three floors of the beautiful Romanesque Queen Anne home, complete with a Tiffany leaded glass dome. After touring museums and homes, consider a live concert or performance at the 100+-year-old Morris Performing Arts Center, once a vaudeville venue.
Two things in South Bend that the kids will love are the Kennedy Water Park and Playground, and the 23-acre Potowatomi Zoo. The zoo features over 500 animals, including tamarin, owls, kudu, leopards, camels, and zebra.
Delight your inner shopper with Eddy Street Commons’ offerings, then treat yourself to a sweet treat (or coffee drink) from South Bend Chocolate Company. Shop for clothing and accessories at the University Plaza Mall. They also have a Build-A-Bear Workshop, Sephora, Apple, and Barnes & Noble.
At night, stroll River Lights Plaza to admire the”Keepers of the Fire” sculpture and light show on the St. Joseph River, with shades of green, blue, and pink dancing across the night. The mesmerizing show starts 1/2 hour before sunset and continues until midnight.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK in South Bend
Eat breakfast at Macadoo’s Family Restaurant, voted “best breakfast in town,” where the homemade biscuits and sausage gravy are spectacular. Another great choice is the Yellow Cat Cafe, specializing in ham steaks and breakfast burritos.
For lunch, BRU Burger Bar is a popular spot for upscale burgers, hot chicken, charcuterie boards, and chili cheese fries, or have your favorite pizza pie from Bruno’s Pizza.
Grab a cold house-made beer from Crooked Ewe Brewery, and enjoy a tantalizing bowl of ramen, a pulled pork sandwich, or one of the fantastic appetizers choices like crispy cauliflower, elote hushpuppies, and poutine.
South Bend has two upscale restaurants that are highly recommended: LaSalle Grille and Tippecanoe Place Restaurant. At LaSalle Grill, indulge in a perfectly cooked steak and side of Mac and cheese, but save room for fruit cobbler or creme brûlée. At Tippecanoe, the Studebaker family’s stunning former home (and National Historic Landmark), try the Chef’s Pasta Creation or the Perfect Prime Rib. There is also a casual brewery on the second floor with a limited menu.
For late-night drinks, food, and hand-crafted Instagram-worthy cocktails, Spirited is the town fave.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH BEND
South Bend’s premier hotel is the stylish Aloft South Bend in the heart of town, with a relaxed lobby bar, billiards, board games, and a well-stocked bar. The hotel offers free Wifi and comfortable accommodations. There are several chain hotels with wide ranges of pricing, from DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, and Morris Inn.
For those wanting something more unique, Four Winds Casino South offers rooms, gaming, bars, and restaurants.
SOUTH BEND: WORTH THE DRIVE
South Bend, Indiana (population 100,000) has the feel of a small town with loads of hospitality and unique attractions. With an immense amount of history, tasty restaurants, a free light show, and a world-class university, you can learn something while having a great time in this part of Hoosier country.